He who HONKs last, HONKs loudest
The Untitled Goose Game initially caught the world’s attention in a Nintendo Direct. The Australian developers, House House, released brief snippets of what this game would be, giving little more information than “You are a naughty goose.” No-one even knew what sort of genre it would be. Now that it has come out, let’s see if it’s a HONKing good time, or a downy disappointment.
The Untitled Goose Game is a puzzle game with stealth elements, but can be best described as a stylised goose simulator. The gameplay involves breaking things and upsetting the inhabitants of a small village as a comically nefarious goose. You harass children, steal things and HONK at people constantly. And there is no way to lose, no fail state, because what self-respecting person is going to harm a goose?
The gameplay is a combination of puzzle solving, stealth and waddling around having a good time. Progression is marked by to-do lists with straight-forward tasks to complete, sometimes made slightly more cryptic so as to not be a direct hand-holding quest log. Complete these tasks in any order you like and however you like, there is plenty of room for creativity.
As you complete each to-do list, a new area in the village opens up, with new challenges to complete and people to mess with. The simple controls are slick and satisfying (the HONK sound effects in particular are excellent) and most interactions function exactly how you want them to. It is also a very accessible game, the controls being simple enough for anyone to grasp, but once you have played around a bit, there are some clever tricks you can pull off.
A noble goose does not need a title to lead
There is no direct narration but there is a story to the Untitled Goose Game centred around the eponymous obnoxious goose. Through exploring the village, we learn about our surroundings from the villagers’ behaviour and reactions to the goose. Some people are forceful and will chase away the goose, whereas others will notice you and continue with their day.
The main reason to upset all of these people is because you can, you have the power to steal their keys and thus you must do it. After frustrating a villager to breaking point, they will often erect a “no goose allowed” sign. Which is fantastic, because they either think the goose can read and understand this sign, or they are warning potential goose enablers to rethink their decisions.
The art style of the game is stylish and adorable. Characters are vague yet distinguishable through features that give strong clues about their archetype and personality. Whenever you are not causing trouble, there is a sense of countryside idyll supported by the adaptive classical background music.
Everything is so calm that it is practically begging for a naughty water fowl to ruin it all. Additionally, there is post-game content to play through. This give you a more extensive to-do list, with difficult challenges and speedruns to complete. These bonus missions encourage you to torture the locals in new and creative ways, and can inspire you to create your own self-inspired mischief.
In terms of the game’s positives, it is hard to choose one aspect in particular. Every part of the game is integrated so perfectly into the overall experience. From the sound design to the menu fonts to the object physics and NPC interactions, the different elements come together seamlessly to deliver the feeling of being a goose with a propensity for chaos. The Untitled Goose Game is so sturdy that it has that potential where you can try anything and the game will keep up with you, as seen in games like Breath of the Wild.
It is difficult to point out the game’s flaws when it delivers exactly what you would expect from it. Sure the visuals could be flashier, there could be more areas and a wardrobe of hats and waistcoats for the goose to try on, but it would be excessive. This is the perfect version of what this game could have been based on the developers’ vision and resources; it maximises the potential of the concept of a goose simulator.
In summation, the Untitled Goose Game is a remarkable artistic achievement and near-faultless as a game. It delivers everything that it promised in its original trailer and exceeds even the most optimistic player’s expectations. Adorable, enjoyable, infinitely replayable and accessible from both a financial and mechanical perspective, I could not recommend this game enough. Go and play it, whoever you are. Bask in the glory of our lord and saviour, gaming’s honking and flapping messiah, the naughty goose.
Score: 10/10 🦆